Paladin returns to the Carlton Hotel and stops at the desk when Hey
Boy doesn't greet him. The hotel clerk soon admits that he doesn't know
Paladin's specific requirements, and informs him that Hey Boy was
discharged due to absenteeism. Paladin points out that Hey Boy could be
sick, but the hotel clerk says that "these people" can be replaced
without a problem. Disgusted, the gunfighter asks for Hey Boy's address.
When Paladin arrives at Hey Boy's apartment, no one answers the door. He leaves and a young Chinese woman emerges. She goes to the Mandarin Galleries import shop, unaware that Paladin is following her. The owner, Wei Chung, escorts her in and has her go into the back. Paladin comes in and looks around, and then asks for information on Kim Chan--Hey Boy's real name. Wei Chang says that he hasn't seen Hey Boy in several days, and Paladin looks in the back. He invites the girl, Kim Li, to come out, and says that he knows that she's Hey Boy's sister. Wei Chung admits that Hey Boy asked them not to let anyone into the apartment while he was away.
Wei Chung informs Paladin that Hey Boy has traveled to Utah to find his brother, Kim Sung. The Kim family had to borrow money to come to China, and Kim Li entered into a marriage arrangement with an elderly merchant to pay off her debt. The railroad company paid to bring Kim Sung over in return for a contract of employment. The company sent Kim Sung to Coldwater, UT, and Kim soon sent a letter to his brother. In it, he complained that the superintendent, Maury Travis, was cheating the Chinese workers of their wages and withholding food. When Sung protested, Travis had him beaten and Sung sent the letter to Hey Boy asking for his help. Later, Hey Boy received a second letter from the railroad company... telling him that Kim Sung died in an accident. Furious, Hey Boy traveled to Coldwater to find out the truth.
Paladin travels to Coldwater and visits Travis' office. He looks on as the superintendent tells his foreman, Brady to force the workers onto the next shift to make up for lost time. Travis then notices Paladin and invites him into the office to talk. Paladin presents his card and tells the superintendent that someone is going to try and kill him, and shows him the second letter to Hey Boy. The gunfighter warns Travis that Hey Boy wants revenge and offers to protect him. Travis says that Hey Boy already came after him with a knife, and he would have killed him but Sheriff Marlow arrested Hey Boy instead. Paladin prepares to leave and Travis asks who claimed that Sung's death wasn't an accident. The gunfighter shows him the first letter with Sung's accusation, but it's in Chinese so Travis assumes that Paladin is lying. He tells Paladin that Sung was killed in an accident and that there's nothing suspicious. As Paladin leaves, he warns Travis that the Chinese have long memories.
At the jail, Paladin talks to Marlow, who lets him talk to Hey Boy. The grief-stricken Hey Boy greets his friend and mourns the fact that his family will never be together. He explains that two of the workers saw Travis beat Sung to death with a club. However, the workers didn't go to Marlow because the white men wouldn't believe a Chinese worker. Hey Boy swears to get revenge on Travis but Paladin warns him that even if he succeeds, Marlow will try and arrest him for murder.
Marlow comes in to release Hey Boy, informing them that Travis dropped the charges. Realizing what Travis is up to, Paladin slips his derringer beneath Hey Boy's pillow and then accuses him of stealing it. Marlow finds the gun and reluctantly locks up Hey Boy again. Outside in the office, Marlow wonders what Paladin is up to and the gunfighter explains that Travis dropped the charges so he could get at Hey Boy and kill him as well. Paladin wonders if Marlow looked into Kim Sung's supposed "accident," and Marlow tells him that he doesn't deal with railroad business. He figures that he'll be there long after Hey Boy, Paladin, and the railroad all leave, and that Kim Sung's death has nothing to do with Coldwater. Marlow tells Paladin that he'll do something if there's evidence but otherwise it's none of his business.
That night, Paladin goes to the workers' camp and addresses the workers in Chinese. He calls on the two witnesses to come forward but no one says anything. Disgusted, Paladin asks how long they'll take Travis' abuse, and the two workers finally step forward. However, Brady arrives and orders the workers back on duty. When he tells Paladin to move off, the gunfighter refuses and Brady attacks him. Paladin defeats the man and tells the coolies that he'll be in town if they want to talk to him.
Later, Travis goes into town and finds Paladin playing solitaire at the saloon. The superintendent orders Paladin out of town, but Paladin ignores him. Marlow comes in and tells Travis that the coolies are rioting and are coming into town to kill Travis. Travis calls on the townspeople in the saloon to help him but they walk away rather than risk their lives. Marlow tells Travis to get out of the town because as far as he's concerned, it's railroad business. The superintendent asks Paladin to protect him and the gunfighter agrees... for $50 an hour in advance. Travis plays and Paladin invites him to sit down and play poker with him.
After an hour, Paladin beats Travis repeatedly and asks him if he wants to pay for another hour. When Travis complains that Paladin is taking advantage of him, Paladin points out that he's not doing as well as Travis did by cheating his workers. Travis pays for another hour of protection and they continue playing for forty-five minutes. The superintendent finally decides that he doesn't need Paladin's services. However, when he looks outside, he sees the coolies marching down the street. Travis tells Paladin to earn his money and protect him.
Paladin goes outside and confronts the mob. He sees Hey Boy and tells him to take the workers back to camp. Hey Boy refuses, telling Paladin to get out of their way. However, Paladin assures him that when they're in America, they'll follow American law and receive the protection of the law. He promises Hey Boy that Travis will pay for his crimes if he's found guilty, but he'll shoot the first man who attacks the superintendent.
Travis comes out and Marlow assures him that he's getting his money's worth in protection. Meanwhile, Paladin calls upon Hey Boy to bring out the two witnesses. Hey Boy has them come forward and they accuse Travis of killing Kim Sung. Travis goes for his gun but Marlow draws first. The superintendent complains that Paladin tricked him, and Paladin assures him that he'll receive the best possible protection when he's held for murder.
Later in San Francisco, Hey Boy brings his sister to the Carlton. They thank Paladin for his help and show him an envelope of money that an anonymous donor sent to Kim Li. In it is enough money for her to pay back her passage without having to marry. Hey Boy is well aware that Paladin sent them the money and tries to give it back. Paladin refuses, saying that Kim Li should find a man worthy of her love and beauty, and points out that the money came from Travis, not him. Hey Boy gives the money to Kim Li and Paladin gently kisses her hand.
Written by Gadfly on Feb 10, 2018